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Are Allergies Cramping Your Sex Life?

Nasal allergies may make you feel anything but romantic. Here's how to get back in the mood.

Avoid the Problem

"Avoidance is probably the first and most important treatment of allergies," Benninger says. Figure out what you're allergic to and take steps to avoid it. An allergist can perform testing, which is simple and reliable, to identify the culprit(s) and help you get relief.

Some of those culprits may be near and dear to you - pets are a common allergy trigger.

He says that as many as 70% of people in the United States sleep with their pets. Even if you don't cuddle up with Fido, if you allow him to spend the whole day sleeping on your pillow, you may have a flare-up of symptoms at bedtime. Allowing pets to spend time on your bed increases the odds of allergic symptoms when it's time for you and your partner to become intimate. Better to keep your bedroom door closed during the day and pets out.

If you're allergic to ragweed or grass, Benninger advises that you keep the windows in your bedroom closed so that the pollen doesn't get in. "You'll sleep better if you don't have that level of exposure in your bed at night," he says.

Bassett suggests setting your air conditioner on recirculate to keep pollens out. And don't forget to check the air conditioning filter during high pollen seasons for the highest level of efficiency.

It's also a good idea to shampoo and shower nightly to rinse the pollens from your skin and hair, and to change your clothes before entering your bedroom to reduce pollen levels, Bassett says.

Cross Reactors

Even if you don't think you have food allergies, it's important to watch what you eat. As many as one in three seasonal allergy sufferers allergic to tree pollen may experience 'oral allergy syndrome' (tingling of the mouth or itchy throat) after ingesting [certain] foods, Bassett says.

The cross-reaction can be caused by the proteins in fruits and pollens. Tree pollen allergies can be exacerbated, for example, by foods such as almonds, apples, apricots, carrots, celery, cherries, kiwi, parsley, peaches, and pears.

Allergic to grass? Watch for reactions when you eat melons, tomatoes, and oranges. "Often, well-cooked, canned, or frozen food offenders cause no reaction," Bassett says.

Time to Medicate

Over-the-counter antihistamines such as Benadryl, Alavert, Zyrtec, or Claritin, along with nasal sprays and eye drops, can be helpful when you're suffering from common hay fever symptoms. But there are drawbacks to medicating yourself.

"People go to over-the-counter medications all the time and take an allergy medication when they have a sinus infection or a cold," Bassett says. "If you have ongoing issues, you should speak with a doctor about what the right treatment is for you and if you need to take it every day."

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